Many organizations pride themselves on the quality of their offered products and/or services. Over time, increasing globalization and competition has pressured organizations to modify their competitive strategies and implement strategic quality evaluation techniques, known as total quality management. This paper will explore and define total quality management, discuss the impact of globalization on quality, and compare traditional management styles and quality-focused management styles. In addition, I will explain how total quality management applies to my organization.
What is Total Quality Management?Total quality management (TQM) surfaced in the 1980s as a fix for the declining quality issues that the manufacturing industry was facing. According to Wadsworth, Stephens, and Godfrey, total quality management is "a process that integrates fundamental management art and techniques with the principles and methodologies of total strategic quality to develop and implement successful business strategies throughout the organization" (2002). In other words, TQM is a strategic management approach where all levels of management and employees are involved in the continuous quality improvement of the organization's products and services.
What makes TQM a management method is how the culture of the organization is altered in a way that centrally focuses on customer satisfaction through quality improvement. The principles of this organizational process involve every function and every employee in satisfying the needs of the internal and external customer. Through the nonstop improvement of manufacturing and control processes, an organization draws its center of attention on quality and customer satisfaction, which can lead to improved production and higher levels of performance. Continuous quality improvement techniques that use employees to drive quality upward along with statistical process controls, such as Six Sigma, that measure production output versus defects make up TQM.
There are several key figures that have contributed significantly to the development and implementation of TQM. These include W. Edwards Deming, Philip Crosby, and Joseph Juran.
Based on their theories, TQM can be successful if the following factors are implemented in the strategy: top management commitment, quality measurement and benchmarking, process management, product design, employee training and empowerment, supplier quality management, and customer involvement and satisfaction (American Society for Quality, 2003).
The Impact of Globalization on QualityWith the rapid growth of globalization, competition is becoming increasingly more stringent. Through the history of total quality and its evolution, consumers have reaped the benefits of globalization, such as higher quality products sold at lower prices. On the contrary, globalization comes at a cost, such as the loss of jobs to foreign countries that can offer cheaper labor. Though globalization has broadened the playing field and widened the competition for business owners and organizations, it has also provided new business opportunities, such as selling overseas.
Since the beginning of the quality movement post World War II, globalization has had a drastic impact on quality. When the U.S. was only major manufacturer in the world after the others had been demolished during WWII, the U.S. began producing goods with little concern for quality. Without any competition and the market in high demand, the U.S. prioritized mass production of low-quality goods. Over the next few decades, globalization rose and brought on competition. The competition came in the form of better quality products and lower costs, which pressured the U.S. to change its strategic approach toward quality in order to regain its competitive edge.
In addition to increased competition, globalization has brought awareness among consumers of their demand for higher quality products and services, product availability, and price research. Technology advancements and the internet have increased the amount of information available to consumers and businesses alike while making it easier and faster to communicate, especially over long distances. Consumers are able to research the product in terms of quality and prices. Organizations that conduct business overseas have to ability to communicate almost instantly with its foreign subsidiaries regarding the supply chain, inventory, and production. Overall, globalization developed a need for TQM, continuous quality improvement techniques, and Six Sigma methods, all of which emphasize the need for competitiveness in a global market (Wadsworth, H., Stephens, K., & Godfrey, A., 2002) .
Traditional Management Styles vs. Quality-Focused Management StylesWhile management styles may vary, the most common styles are traditional management and quality-focused management. As it was stated in the earlier sections, TQM is a strategic management approach, where quality-focused management is required for success. As the awareness for quality increases among organizations, the traditional style of management is fading out and the quality-focused management style is becoming more popular. In the traditional style, employees lack the freedom to be creative in their work and are to follow specific instructions or processes without thinking. This style of management often looks to the employees as the problem. Unlike the traditional style of management, quality-focused management encourages its employees to be creative and resourceful, which can develop a sense of employee ownership and empowerment. The quality-focused style of management also promotes the use of teams to brainstorm and focus on meeting objective together. In this style of management, a surfacing problem is viewed as a problem in the process, and not the employees. Quality-focused management is necessary for TQM because that style places emphasis on improving the process while striving to understand and satisfy the needs of the consumer.
Application of TQM and my OrganizationMy previous organization was a financial institution, offering both products and services, where I held the title of a Universal Representative. At my organization, quality was a top priority in every process from interacting with customers to normal day-to-day office duties. Although the organization was only state wide, the company was one of the more popular banks simply because of how it stressed the importance of TQM. It changed its image and became a self-proclaimed boutique bank, where unlike other banks, it offered personalized service in a comfortable, yet trendy and chic atmosphere. These key factors were all founded on meeting the needs of the customer.
Another element of TQM used in my previous organization was employee empowerment and ownership. As a Universal Representative, I was trained to do almost everything, from working the teller window to processing loans. The bank's philosophy on training its employees in this fashion was to encourage teamwork and ownership. By knowing how to be a teller and process loans, my skill level allows me to cover for a coworker, regardless of what the job entails. Additionally, this gives employees a sense of ownership in their work by being able to assist customers from the start of their visit to the end. For example, there is nothing worse than having to go to the bank to make a deposit, apply for a loan, and open an account and then have to wait to deal with three different bank employees for each task. As a Universal Representative, I was able to assist the customer with all three tasks, without having to pass him/her off to another employee.
ConclusionThe history and evolution of quality management has stressed the importance of implementing quality throughout an organization. The development of total quality management involves all levels of management, employees, and statistical methods to drive an organization's focus on satisfying the customer. While an organization may create a total quality management strategy, it is essential that every employee is involved and in support of total quality management for the strategy to be effective.
ReferencesKontoghiorghes, C. (2003).Examining the association between quality and productivity performance in a service organization. American Society for Quality. Volume 10. Retrieved May 7, 2007 at http://www.asq.org/pub/qmj/past/vol10_issue/kontoghiorghes.htmlWadsworth, H., Stephens, K., & Godfrey, A. (2002). Modern methods for quality control and improvement. John Wiley & Sons Inc.